Parete and her partner, Carl E. Andolina, were both shot while responding to a fight inside a gas station-convenience store at West Chippewa Street and South Elmwood Avenue. Andolina recovered from his injuries, but Parete, who suffered severe damage to her spine, was paralyzed from the neck down.
She spent nine months in rehabilitation at a New Jersey facility before returning to Western New York. She was still unable to move her arms or legs. At that point, the community came to her assistance, raising more than a half-million dollars for her care. In 2009, a house was built in Niagara County to make it easier for her to get around in her wheelchair. In an unprecedented and generous arrangement, the city and Police Benevolent Association agreed to pay salary and benefits to Parete’s life partner to provide the necessary care.
Together, Western New Yorkers responded in a deeply caring way to the trauma Parete suffered on that day six years ago, and every day since. It is easy, in the midst of busy lives, for most people to overlook the dangers that police officers and firefighters face daily in their dangerous jobs, but those dangers are significant. An officer may go through his or her career without ever facing an armed person, but the risk is always present and sometimes it plays out in terrible fashion.
Shortly after the shooting, family members shared a statement with The News about Parete’s remarkable life: “The thing that makes Patty loved and truly unique is how she has always, since she was a little girl, brought people together and created friendships and bonds that have affected lives in ways that mend the difficulties and differences of everyday life. She is a healer.”
Although Parete’s struggle is now over, these are bound to be difficult days for her family, friends and fellow officers. Her former partner made the point eloquently on Tuesday, before today’s funeral.
“The events of Dec. 5, 2006, were tragic on many levels,” Andolina stated. “Now is not the time to relive the incident which shattered Patty Parete’s life. It should, however, be a time to celebrate Patty’s time with us and embrace her family and friends in love and support.” And embrace also the police who lost a colleague.